Historical Markers in
Jasper County, Illinois

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The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was one of the most devastating fires in U.S. history. The fire destroyed much of the city, including over 17,000 buildings and left more than 100,000 people homeless. The fire started in a barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O'Leary, but the cause of the fire is still debated to this day.
Jasper County, Illinois, named after Revolutionary War hero Sergeant William Jasper, has a rich history that stretches back centuries. The area that would become Jasper County was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Illinois Confederation and the Fox and Kickapoo tribes. European settlers began arriving in the early 1800s, with the first permanent settlement established in 1833.

The county's early economy was primarily based on agriculture, with settlers growing crops such as corn, wheat, and tobacco. In the mid-1800s, the discovery of coal in the region led to a shift in the county's economic focus. Coal mining became a major industry, attracting many workers and investment to the area. Railroads were also built to transport coal and agricultural products, facilitating further economic growth.

During the Civil War, Jasper County residents played an active role in both supporting the Union cause and providing soldiers for the war effort. However, the war also brought hardship to the county, with many homes and businesses being destroyed or severely damaged.

Throughout the 20th century, agriculture remained an important part of Jasper County's economy, with a focus on corn and soybean production. The county also saw some industrial development, with the establishment of factories and manufacturing plants.

Today, Jasper County continues to have a mostly rural character, with agriculture and coal mining remaining important industries. The county is also home to several historic sites, including the Newton Historic Business District and the Lincoln Monument, which marks the site where Abraham Lincoln once spoke during a political campaign.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Jasper County, Illinois.

  • 1831 - Jasper County is established by the Illinois General Assembly.
  • 1838 - Newton becomes the county seat of Jasper County.
  • 1840 - The first courthouse in Newton is built.
  • 1857 - The second courthouse is constructed in Newton.
  • 1906 - The third and current courthouse is completed in Newton.
  • 1912 - The Newton Carnegie Library is built.
  • 1920 - Oil is discovered in the county, leading to increased economic activity.
  • 1944 - The Prairie Ridge State Natural Area is established.
  • 1984 - The Newton Eagles football team wins the Class 3A state championship.
  • 2010 - The population of Jasper County reaches its peak at over 9,000 residents.